Comedian Sam Jay's Partner Is 'Never Blindsided' by Jokes About Their Relationship: 'We Have Fun'

"We take care of one another," Sam Jay tells PEOPLE of her on-and-off relationship with partner Yanise Monét, whom she considers her chosen family

Sam Jay has served plenty of laughs in her blossoming comedy career, but no audience is more in tune with her sense of humor than her partner of nearly 15 years, interior designer Yanise Monét.

The couple has developed a comedic shorthand over the years, which is apparent as they tell their love story from their sun-soaked New York City apartment.

"We were always friends," Jay, 39, tells PEOPLE in this week's Pride Issue of their on-and-off relationship. "And I think over time, just being connected to one another and not being able to break that connection, a person just becomes family to you. So even when we weren't necessarily dating, I always felt she was a person who was going to always be in my life."

She and Monét, 37, met through mutual friends in Atlanta over a decade ago. The host of PAUSE with Sam Jay, HBO's new late-night talk show, recounts how they met briefly at a club, before their friend's car broke down in front of Monét's house later that night. "I was digging her," Jay recalls.

"And then we would just hang out a bunch and that's kind of how it started," she says. "It was off and on for years, dating and then breaking up, talking and not necessarily fully dating, while we were dating other people."

sam shay and yanise monet
Courtesy Sam Jay

Regardless of who they were dating at the time, they've always considered each other family. "I define family by the people that are in my circle that my energy resonates with," Monét says.

Along the way, the couple relocated to Los Angeles, then to N.Y.C., where Jay began writing for Saturday Night Live in 2017 and has since earned two Emmy Award nominations. Their relationship has also inspired some quality standup fodder for Jay, but Monét says it's all in good fun, and she's "never blindsided" by it.

"We have a lot of fun. We laugh a lot," Jay adds. "She's definitely super funny to me, and we both have a good sense of humor about ourselves, so we're able to joke with one another."

In her Netflix special 3 In the Morning, which premiered last August, Jay jokes about a recent flight they took, during which Monét expected her to carry all the bags. "She forgets, I'm not a man. ... I don't have any chivalry, I don't give a f---," she quips in the special.

The lovable teasing is just as present offstage. "We argue a lot and wipe boogies on each other," Jay jokes. "It's very immature, but I think we also take care of one another. She prays for me a lot. That's a big showing of love, and she sages me a lot. So I take that as an action of love, for sure. And I pay for stuff."

Although Jay had to deal with the loss of both parents and a stepparent at a young age, she and Monét have built their own chosen family over the years. "I think life kind of put me in a situation where I had to lean on friends and people more than normal," she reflects.

"After my mom passed and I kind of drifted away from my family, I had to find that connection with people through going to Atlanta for school or coming out," she says. "And so now my definition of family is truly more based on the individual connection than it is necessarily a bloodline."

PAUSE with Sam Jay is streaming on HBO Max.

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